By Alina Goanta, Solution Focused Brief Coach www.coachingforchange.ro
It’s been four years now since I have been practicing coaching as a professional coach and yet, I have to admit, I still find it difficult to give an answer when asked “What is coaching?” Nevertheless, there are some keywords that, from my point of view, capture the essence of it. I would say coaching is a process that takes place within a partnership based on mutual trust and confidence that, ultimately, leads to personal growth.
As I read the definition I’ve attempted above, I realize that, if you put it this way, coaching sounds as a really serious thing. A process usually implies middle to long term. A partnership most probably makes you think of commitment and perseverance. Mutual trust and confidence sounds like a really nice thing to have in a partnership, no matter the kind. The question is how do you put it there and how do you keep it? As for personal growth, hmm… you might have it on your wish list, but you might also have heard some rumors that growing might sometimes get pretty tough. And painful. For sure you have heard or read at least once by now about that metaphor with the caterpillar who feels like her world is about to end just before turning into a butterfly. I can totally empathize how that sounds both inspiring and frightening. Who would deliberately like to feel that their world is about to end when it might already be difficult enough to live with it as it is and all they want is to make things at least a little bit better?
That’s where treasure hunting comes into place. And when you combine it with coaching, you get the Solution Focused Coaching approach, the recipe for a much more fun, lighter and brief process of growth. Let’s see how that happens.
Treasure hunting with the Solution Focused coaching approach is a game that involves at least two players, where one of them is the Brief Coach that we will refer to as “the Guide” and the second one is the Coachee, whom we will refer to as “the Treasure Hunter” and who could, for the sake of the story, be yourself.
When the Guide and the Treasure Hunter meet, the Guide is not really interested in the difficulties that the Treasure Hunter is or has been facing before. The Guide is a good listener though and for sure has the patience and the consideration to listen in case you really insist in talking about the problem, but he or she does that with the underlying belief that you are not your problem. The Guide sees you more like a walking undiscovered treasure and, being more the action type, looks forward to starting the discovering journey together with you. So, he might ask you positive and forward moving questions like “What is your best hope from our journey together?” Just by focusing on the answer to this question suddenly puts everything into a new perspective: one where the change you long for, whatever it is and however big it is, becomes possible. Which makes you not only hopeful, but also curious, a great state of mind to be in for the game ahead .
As they start together on this journey, the Guide and the Treasure Hunter both commit to do their best and make the best of it, knowing there are in fact no guarantees about how the game is going to unfold. There is though one difference between them. The Guide secretly knows that whatever the Treasure Hunter is looking for and however bumpy or smooth their journey together is going to be, they will eventually get there. But he wisely keeps the secret to himself, as he knows that part of the treasure the hunter is on his way to discover is actually enjoying and learning to trust the process of looking for it.
So they start this game together, the aim of the game being for the Treasure Hunter to find the resources that he or she already has inside themselves, although at the time being, they might be out of sight or well hidden by all sorts of personal or professional challenges.
As they go along, side by side, the Guide has a strong, unbreakable belief that the Treasure Hunter already has inside and has already used all the resources that they are looking for, without them being aware of that. This belief they hold so close works like a magical flashlight that puts into sight every new hint in the game and brings into awareness every new resource that they lead to. As they listen to the Treasure Hunter’s story, for every hint that comes along the way, the Guide puts the light on, invites the Treasure Hunter to pause, to get closer, to become curious and start to explore it. What is this about?
Is it a smaller or a bigger success that they might have missed acknowledging and appreciating themselves for? Is it a quality they already had which could be expressed in more ways and different contexts? Is it a learning they already learned and could be applied in further situations? Is it a personal value they deeply cherish that brings with it all the strength they need once it is honored? Is it a dream they held close to their heart for so long and it’s time to dust it off and let it shine? What is it?
As the Treasure Hunter pauses, zooms in and wonders, their attention naturally moves from the search to the finding, where there seemed to be nothing now there is something, their mindset shifts and, in no time, the problem fades away and they find themselves looking at the solution. Instead of focusing on its world coming to an end, the caterpillar finds itself focusing on its wings growing, on how colorful they are and becomes a butterfly without even knowing it.
And as you play along, discovering a hint after another, a whole treasure unfolds before you. Within you. From here on, the treasure hunt goes to a next level.
So… suppose, just suppose, that tonight, while you sleep, a miracle happens. The miracle being so big that you find yourself living your life as the best expression of the treasure you’ve just found inside yourself.
How will you go about discovering the next morning that this miracle must have occurred?